Interview with Chen Shui-bian

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TIME: What will be your first act as President?
Chen Shui-bian:
First I have to make four calls and see one person. The four calls will be to the other candidates to express my appreciation for the opportunity I had to mature and grow during the campaign period. The one person I must see is Lee Teng-hui, since I am succeeding him as President. He contributed a lot to Taiwan's democracy and progress, and I will seek his advice on many matters of domestic and international affairs. I think we should form a government that crosses ethnic and party lines, and the DPP should build links to all the other parties. Now that the election is over, passions must subside, especially in cross-Strait relations. We would propose active conciliation to reduce tensions

TIME: What was the most memorable part of the campaign?
Initially, during the struggle inside my party for the nomination and then the three-way race of candidates, some in the party didn't support me and doubted my ability to win. But one year later the party came around fully behind me. This has been a very complex and moving transition for me. As I said in my speech [at the close of his campaign last Friday], during all this campaigning and speaking my body has grown very tired. But when I go home and see my wife and family, my heart is not tired. All my supporters warm my heart and give me great strength and encouragement.

TIME: How did you feel at your last rally with those members of the Kaohsiung Eight (pro-democracy protesters who were arrested in Kaohsiung and jailed in 1979 in a crackdown by the KMT that led to even greater momentum for democracy and ultimately the founding of Chen's party) behind you on stage?
TIME: How will you reassure Taiwan and the rest of the world that there will not be war in the Taiwan Strait?
Chen: First of all, we will build a cross-party coalition to deal with the very difficult issue of cross-Strait relations. I will not even wait for the inauguration [on May 20] but start right away because this is such an important issue. Without a cross-party consensus behind me, it would be very difficult to proceed. Second, although I am proud to be a member of the DPP, national interests must come before party and personal interests. I will keep a clear line between party and state interests. I would like to visit the United States, Japan and possibly Singapore and other concerned states to communicate with them on security issues. And I hope before May 20 to make a goodwill visit to China. On cross-Strait relations, I will invite [Nobel Prize winner] Dr. Lee Yuan-tseh to lead a group of consultants, and I will invite experts like [chief cross-Strait negotiator] Koo Chen-fu, who have been working on this area in the past.

TIME: Is this a new era for Taiwan?
Chen: In this election we chose a new future, an end to the 55-year monopoly on power by the KMT. It is Taiwan's first handover of power, and it is a consolidation of Taiwan's democracy. The U.S. had its first handover of power 200 years ago. We are coming later, but we feel this moment is truly historic. We will complete Taiwan's first peaceful transition of power.